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Ask the doc………

Dr. Pack | 8/29/2014, 6:18 p.m.
Just like looking at the tires on your car, your shoes reveal a lot about the ride you’re getting, i.e. ...
Note the difference in wear patterns on these shoes

“My son said that you were able to tell him that he was quicker turning to his left side when playing football just by looking at the bottoms of his shoes. Was he kidding, or is this really possible?”

Just like looking at the tires on your car, your shoes reveal a lot about the ride you’re getting, i.e. how you function, and how long your shoes, but more importantly, you joints, will last. Take a real close look at your shoes, especially the bottoms. Compare the specific wear patterns of the soles side to side as you look on the insides, outsides, heels, toes and other areas. See if there is excessive wear in one area or if the wear pattern is not exactly the same on each shoe. Since the good lord did not make us perfect or symmetrical, findings such as these are commonplace and indicate structural problems.

Recent data from famed institutions like the Mayo Clinic, now confirm that these structural problems cause increased friction and pressure on the weight bearing joints of your feet, ankles, knees, hips, back and neck, and it is this and not age, that are the primary causes of osteoarthritis.

If you pronate or roll in excessively, you will find far greater wear on the inside bottom of the shoe rather than the outside. This can cause pain in your weight bearing joints and also affect sports performance.

The inside bottom of your son’s left shoe was more worn than his right indicating that he had a flatter left foot. That’s a harder foot to push off from than his straighter right foot so he would most likely be faster to his left. His wear pattern also usually indicates that he has a longer left leg. That would make it harder for him to turn to his left because he would basically be trying to turn up hill.

Excessive wear on the outsides of the shoes means you have a supinated or high arched foot. This can cause problems like lateral ankle sprains and knee problems.

Tight calf muscles cause excessive wear at the tips of the shoes causing the ends of the shoes to sit up off the floor. Many people use shoe trees never realizing why the ends of their shoes always curl upward.

Tight calves can cause pain in the fronts and backs of the legs, as well as heel and arch problems. In addition, people with this problem often feel like they’re getting clumsy because they have difficulty picking their feet up, especially on carpet. Many older people trip for this very reason but attribute it to their age. Yet all of these problems are usually very treatable and can not only help you function more comfortably, but prevent many arthritic problems later on.

So maybe there really is more to “shoe reading” than you might have originally thought……

A former reconstructive foot and ankle surgeon, past Clinical Instructor of Medicine at Emory, and Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology, Dr. Pack practices in Greensboro and Atlanta. For further information please contact him directly at 770-335-9201, via email at dr.loupack@mindspring.com, or see his website at www.drloupack.com. His new book, The Arthritis Revolution, Latest Research on Staying Active Without Pain Medication or Surgery, is available on LuLu.com or Amazon.com.